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‘My heart sunk’: Father of student in Hays CISD bus crash shares story

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BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – Hector Campos said Friday he received a phone call that every parent dreads. 

“[It was] the worst feeling in the world,” Campos said. “You never think you would get one, and for me, my heart sunk right away.”

The call was to inform him of a crash his daughter’s Hays Consolidated Independent School District bus was involved in. Campos rushed to the crash site and then waited hours to find out if his daughter, Caliana, was okay. 

“It felt like an eternity,” Campos said. “It was just complete chaos there,” he continued. “It was very hard.”

Caliana is okay. Campos said she suffered only a few scrapes. 

On Friday afternoon, the crash occurred between the bus and a concrete truck. It resulted in two deaths – a child on the bus and a man in a vehicle traveling behind the bus. As of Sunday evening, there are still two Hays CISD employees and two students in the hospital, per a Hays CISD spokesperson. 

The bus was headed back from a field trip to the Bastrop Zoo. Campos said this was Caliana’s first field trip. 

“It’s just been an emotional wreck,” he said. “It’s just very sad. We’re trying to hold it together. But you know, we’re being as positive as we can.”

Coping with the trauma 

The principal of Tom Green Elementary School, Jennifer Hanna, sent a message to parents Saturday advising them that class on Monday will be canceled. Instead of a regular school day, Hanna said specialized crisis and trauma counselors would be available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Child and Adolescent Psychologist Dr. Julia Clark said that some of the children who were on the bus may not have a difficult time recovering from the trauma. She said for others, it could be more challenging. 

“Similar to looking at veterans coming back from overseas, some veterans develop [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] and some don’t,” Clark said. “We don’t really know why.”

Clark said it is good to have systems in place to support kids but also not to assume they will be severely traumatized. 

“You’re looking for kind of a shift in the [child’s] behavior,” she said. “You’re looking for what’s going on in daily functioning and if it is to the point where the kid is not able to do things that they were before. Is it impacting sleep? Is it impacting their behavior?”

Clark also said parents should check in with themselves. 

“This is also a terrifying thing for a parent to go through. To think, ‘Oh my gosh, what if this happens when my kids are on a bus?’” Clark said. “There might be a part where the kid may not need the support, but a parent may really benefit from seeking out some support.”

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